Author Topic: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?  (Read 2253 times)

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Offline Porter ODoran

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The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« on: September 15, 2017, 12:24:12 PM »
The following from our dear Alpha60 got me thinking this could be a topic for further debate:

By the way, one of our saints condemned a Gospel of Thomas as written not by the Apostle, but by Thomas the disciple of Mani.  I have come to believe this refers not to the text uncovered at Nag Hammadi, but rather, to the horrific Protoevangelion of Thomas, which blasphemously depicts our Lord in his childhood killing people for his own amusement.  The latter text was much more widely known, was never lost, and was published at a time when the Protoevangelion of St. James, and other literature about the childhood of our Lord, was extremely popular.  But it is a vile and pernicious text, and thus one can see why it was one of the earliest Gnostic texts to be denounced by name by a saintly Orthodox bishop.

I used to have a thick volume of Proto-Gospels, Acts of the Etc., and Apocalypses; I loaned it to someone and lost it (reader, here is wisdom). These aren't read in Churches, and only a few are referred to in the Fathers. And at the time I read them, I thought most seemed too imaginative and triumphalist to be anything but pious fabrications. Now that Alpha thinks some of them are even "vile and pernicious," I have to reconsider -- perhaps they are texts of substance I overlooked ...

Debate!
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2017, 06:20:19 PM »
Or not.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline augustin717

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2017, 06:27:14 PM »
The protoevangelion of James probably provided the Nativity narrative of Marty/Luke. It's debatable which gospels precede which. Proto James or Peter are old enough to make one wonder .
She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, “The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.”
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.

Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2017, 08:52:52 AM »
The following from our dear Alpha60 got me thinking this could be a topic for further debate:

By the way, one of our saints condemned a Gospel of Thomas as written not by the Apostle, but by Thomas the disciple of Mani.  I have come to believe this refers not to the text uncovered at Nag Hammadi, but rather, to the horrific Protoevangelion of Thomas, which blasphemously depicts our Lord in his childhood killing people for his own amusement.  The latter text was much more widely known, was never lost, and was published at a time when the Protoevangelion of St. James, and other literature about the childhood of our Lord, was extremely popular.  But it is a vile and pernicious text, and thus one can see why it was one of the earliest Gnostic texts to be denounced by name by a saintly Orthodox bishop.

I used to have a thick volume of Proto-Gospels, Acts of the Etc., and Apocalypses; I loaned it to someone and lost it (reader, here is wisdom). These aren't read in Churches, and only a few are referred to in the Fathers. And at the time I read them, I thought most seemed too imaginative and triumphalist to be anything but pious fabrications. Now that Alpha thinks some of them are even "vile and pernicious," I have to reconsider -- perhaps they are texts of substance I overlooked ...

Debate!

Never loan books; I believe books should only be given.  However, in thid case you are in luck; 100% of the extant NT Apocrypha, with the possible exception of the recently discovered Gospel of Judas, which I have not read, is available on the Internet.

The Proto-Evangelion of Thomas is truly vile blasphemy; it depicts our Savior, Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, killing his school teacher and other children for his own amusement.  He later brings them back only after a scolding from Sts. Mary and Joseph.

How is that not utter blasphemy?

Of all the Gnostic writings that survive, the Proto-Evangelion of Thomas is the only one I find outright offensive.

Most of the books in question were anathematized, their authors "damned inexorably to Hell forever" in the Decretum Gelasianium of 493, by Pope Gelasius I, the most strongly worded anathema I have encountered and the only one denying explicitly the possibility of forgiveness.

Here is the list:

Quote
firstly we confess that the synod of Sirmium called together by Constantius Caesar the son of Constantine through the Prefect Taurus is damned then and now and for ever.
the Itinerary in the name of Peter the apostle, which is called the nine books of the holy Clement   apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Andrew   apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Thomas   apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Peter   apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Philip   apocryphal
the Gospel in the name of Mathias   apocryphal
the Gospel in the name of Barnabas   apocryphum
the Gospel in the name of James the younger   apocryphum
the Gospel in the name of the apostle Peter   apocryphum
the Gospel in the name of Thomas which the Manichaeans use   apocryphum
the Gospels in the name of Bartholomew   apocrypha
the Gospels in the name of Andrew   apocrypha
the Gospels which Lucianus forged   apocrypha
the Gospels which Hesychius forged   apocrypha
the book on the infancy of the saviour   apocryphus
the book of the nativity of the saviour and of Mary or the midwife   apocryphus
the book which is called by the name of the Shepherd   apocryphus
all the books which Leucius the disciple of the devil made   apocryphi
the book which is called the Foundation   apocryphus
the book which is called the Treasure   apocryphus
the book of the daughters of Adam Leptogeneseos   apocryphus
the cento on Christ put together in Virgilian verses   apocryphum
the book which is called the Acts of Thecla and Paul   apocryphus
the book which is called Nepos's   apocryphus
the books of Proverbs written by heretics and prefixed with the name of holy Sixtus    apocryphus
the Revelation which is called Paul's   apocrypha
the Revelation which is called Thomas's   apocrypha
the Revelation which is called Stephen's   apocrypha
the book which is called the Assumption of holy Mary   apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of Adam   apocryphus
the book about Og the giant of whom the heretics assert that after the deluge he fought with the dragon   apocryphus
the book which is called the Testament of Job   apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of Origen   apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of holy Cyprian   apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of Jamne and Mambre   apocryphus
the book which is called the Lots of the apostles   apocryphus
the book which is called the grave-plate (?)  of the apostles   apocryphus
the book which is called the canons of the apostles   apocryphus
the book Physiologus written by heretics and prefixed with the name of blessed Ambrose   apocryphus
the History of Eusebius Pamphilii   apocrypha
the works of Tertullian   apocrypha
the works of Lactantius also known as Firmianus   apocrypha
the works of Africanus   apocrypha
the works of Postumianus and Gallus   apocrypha
the works of Montanus, Priscilla and Maximilla   apocrypha
the works of Faustus the Manichaean   apocrypha
the works of Commodian   apocrypha
the works of the other Clement, of Alexandria   apocrypha
the works of Thascius Cyprianus   apocrypha
the works of Arnobius   apocrypha
the works of Tichonius   apocrypha
the works of Cassian the Gallic priest   apocrypha
the works of Victorinus of Pettau   apocrypha
the works of Faustus of Riez in Gaul   apocrypha
the works of Frumentius Caecus   apocrypha
the cento on Christ stitched together from verses of Virgil   apocryphum
the Letter from Jesus to Abgar   apocrypha
the Letter of Abgar to Jesus   apocrypha
the Passion of Cyricus and Julitta   apocrypha
the Passion of Georgius   apocrypha
the writing which is called the Interdiction of Solomon   apocrypha
all amulets which are compiled not in the name of the angels as they pretend but are written in the names of great demons   apocrypha
These and those similar ones, which Simon Magus, Nicolaus, Cerinthus, Marcion, Basilides, Ebion, Paul of Samosata, Photinus and Bonosus, who suffered from similar error, also Montanus with his obscene followers, Apollinaris, Valentinus the Manichaean, Faustus the African, Sabellius, Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Novatus, Sabbatius, Calistus, Donatus, Eustasius, Jovianus, Pelagius, Julian of Eclanum, Caelestius, Maximian, Priscillian from Spain, Nestorius of Constantinople, Maximus the Cynic, Lampetius, Dioscorus, Eutyches, Peter and the other Peter, of whom one disgraced Alexandria and the other Antioch, Acacius of Constantinople with his associates, and what also all disciples of heresy and of the heretics and schismatics, whose names we have scarcely preserved, have taught or compiled, we acknowledge is to be not merely rejected but eliminated from the whole Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and with their authors and the followers of its authors to be damned in the inextricable shackles of anathema forever.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2017, 09:38:56 AM »
Now, I think it is safe to say that Pope Gelasius, in the manner typical of the extremely conservative ancient Roman Church, which had the most minimalistic liturgy, which did not even admit antiphons but sang in monotone (or perhaps monody) until St. Ambrose in 385 and the gradual introduction of the Greek-based Ambrosian and Gregorian chant, a church which prior to Pope Leo was without controversy in any of the doctrinal disputes except for a brief period of near-Arianism in the 350s, and a church which one ancient Greek father made a pilgrimage to solely on account of the steadfastness with which they had adhered to the ancient faith, did go a bit overboard.

For example, earlier in the same Decretum, he barred reading the histories of the martyrs because he did not know which ones were genuine and which ones were composed by "idiots and unbelievers."  The Roman Orthodox Church refusing to read the Synaxarium or Martyrology owing to doubts as to the authenticity of its contents today seems almost too shocking to believe, but, there you have it.

Thus Pope St. Gelasius made the error of contradicting St. Athanasius regarding the Shepherd of Hermas; while the Old Testament canon of St. Athanasius was not received by the Church (primarily regarding Esther), his New Testament canon and all other notes of the 39th epistle I believe should be considered infallible, and St. Athanasius, while forbidding the use of the Shepherd of Hermas liturgically, from being read "in the church," did nonetheless authorize its use along with the epistles of Clement for purposes of Catechism.  Thus, I think Pope Gelasius had the right to disagree with St. Athanasius and prohibit the use of the work for catechism in the Roman diocese, just as he prohibited rhe use of the Synaxarium, but he did not have the right to anathematize the author of a work commended for instruction by St. Athanasius the Great.

Also, his decree probably refers to the Proto-Evangelion of James, from which the traditions of the Nativity of the Theotokos and the Presentation of the Theotokos are derived.  I believe, because that Proto-Evangelion describes events commemorated by the Orthodox Church, it should be accepted into the same category of supplementary extracanonical material as the Shepherd of Hermas.  Likewise, I suspect his Canons of the Apostles refers either to the Apostolic Canons, which we use, or those of Hippolytus, which contain an Anaphora the Ethiopians use, or Didache or Didascalia, the Didache ought to be uncontroversial as an early church order, and the Didascalia is in the Ethiopian Broader Canon.  However, the Apostolic Constitutions, which contains two orders for the divine liturgy and other services, does appear to contain heretical content.

If the Pope did intend to target the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus, which seems unlikely given his commendation of the writings of earlier Popes, it may have been as a way of denouncing the liturgy it contained and asserting the antiquity of the Roman Canon.  If that is the case, that would mean the Roman Catholic Church anathematizes itself every time it uses Eucharistic Prayer II in the Novus Ordo Rite (an amusing thought, since that prayer owing to its brevity is the one most commonly said).  However, in any event, we cannot accept it as anathema, because the Ethiopian Orthodox Church uses the Anaphora of Hippolytus, calling it the Anaphora of the Holy Apostles.

Also, I believe the Acts of Paul and Theclas agree with our hagiography of St. Theclas, so could be considered legitimate as well.

~

As far as everything else in that list is concerned, its not "early Christian fanfic."  It is either authentic writings intentionally corrupted to have a Gnostic meaning (the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Thomas, possibly the Gospel of Peter), or Gnostic literature from the start composed to support various Gnostic sects.

I believe in most cases we can assume a Syrian Gnostic (Severian, Tatianist or Manichaean) origin on anything named for St. Thomas, given the esteem in which he was held in the East, and a Greco-Roman origin for anything named for St. Paul, given the importance he played in evangelizing the Roman Empire.  St. Thomas was the Apostle to the Syrian Jews and to the Syriac speakers in general, and together with his disciples Sts. Addai and Mari, made it all the way to India, and later the Church of the East reached Tibet and Mongolia, and was everywhere in Asia until Tamerlane killed them off everywhere except in Iraq and Malankara.  Also, he killed off most of the Jews, except for the Bukharan Jews and the Jews of Kerala; some Jews remained in hiding among the Han Chinese, and I believe these Han Chinese crypto-Jews are considered to be intact to this day, but have not generally pursued Aliyah or fully accepted a Jewish identity.  A bit like the dying Kurishitans of Japan.

Everything that mentions another Apostle by name very possibly originated wherever that apostle was most venerated, so we might guess the Acts of Andrew and the Apocryphon of John originated in modern day Turkey.

Gnostics are by nature syncretic; Syriac fragments of the Gospel of Thomas were found before the complete work was found at Nag Hammadi, in Coptic.  It is very possible what was written by one sect was used by another.  I don't know the contents of the fragments of the Gospel of Thomas that were found; I should like to look, because if they are devoid of the few objectionable sayings atteibuted to our Lord in the complete Coptic text found at Nag Hammadi, and instead contain only sayings which correspond with the Synaptics, that would be evidence in favour of my pet theory, that the Gospel of Thomas is not a Gospel, per se, but a collection of the things said by Jesus Christ that Sts. Thomas, Addai and Mari used as reference material while preaching the Gospel, and which was disseminated in the Church of the East prior to the Didascalia of Tatian, the first Syriac work to contain the text of the Gospels (albeit as a mashed together harmony which is quite lame compared to the Peshitta; the beauty of the four separate books was ruined by Tatian in his effort to glue them together).

That Tatian, who would later embrace Gnosticism, composed his Didascalia from the four canonical Gospels, however, is a huge blow to the idea that the ancient canonical church ever embraced more than four primary Gospel narratives, and then inadvertantly or intentionally changed its mind due to ecclesiastical politics and rejected those it disliked, the view taken by the naive Elaine Pagels, Karen King and Rev. Peter Owen Jones.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2017, 09:51:51 AM »
while the Old Testament canon of St. Athanasius was not received by the Church (primarily regarding Esther), his New Testament canon and all other notes of the 39th epistle I believe should be considered infallible,

Doesn't the Ethiopian Church have additional books in its NT?

Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2017, 09:54:06 AM »
The protoevangelion of James probably provided the Nativity narrative of Marty/Luke. It's debatable which gospels precede which. Proto James or Peter are old enough to make one wonder .

The "Gospel According to Peter" could be legitimate, or rather, could have been legitimate; the problem is that it is fragmentary, and its ending contains some wierdness that smacks of Docetism or Gnosticism.

The problem is that it is a fragment.  It was respectfully buried with a Coptic monk in the Ninth Century, who may have had the last surviving copy and been an advocate of it; that it was respectfully buried with him at a canonical Coptic monastery suggests that the Abbot could not attest to its legitimacy, but found no reason to despise it, and at the same time, recognized that monk loved it, so, wishing to avoid any possible future confusion or propagation of error, when that monk died, he buried it with him.  Then, over the centuries, it, like its owner, decomposed, leaving us with just an extremely lucid passion narrative with an extremely funky and bizarre ending, which is incomplete.

So perhaps the book was not a full Gospel, thus, not threatening the idea of there being four Gospels; perhaps it was The Passion According to St. Peter, and perhaps it had an ending which became more conventional and less docetic, but that portion is missing.   Or perhaps it was a complete Gospel which the early Church could not authenticate and thus did not preserve.

Not preserving texts is not the same as destroying them; the Nag Hammadi library was probably a cache set up by a member of a dying Gnostic community to preserve the teachings of his faith and protect them from being burned.  Perhaps it was a sort of time capsule, with the belief that the library would one day be rediscovered.  The Bedouins who found it tragically, or perhaps providentially, burned much of the material for fires for keeping warm before the archaeologists made contact and secured it.  I believe those texts were intentionally preserved sub rosa, because several of them the Church had resolved to burn.

On the other hand, manuscripts required continual replacement.  I believe the Minority Text is defective simply because it survives; if the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus had been approved for use in the Church they would have been worn out.  At some point, the monasteries began to archive disused liturgical and other texts for future reference, and this is probably why Mount Athos preserved so much (I think it is where the Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas were found).
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

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This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2017, 10:23:06 AM »
while the Old Testament canon of St. Athanasius was not received by the Church (primarily regarding Esther), his New Testament canon and all other notes of the 39th epistle I believe should be considered infallible,

Doesn't the Ethiopian Church have additional books in its NT?

In the Broad Canon, yes, but I believe they are included just as reference material.  They are not read liturgically. 

The Armenians for a while had a 3 Corinthians, which is so bland, that, like the Epistle of St. Paul to the Laodiceans, it is either a pious forgery, or utterly useless, but this also was not read liturgically.

The Assyrian Peshitta contains fewer books than the Athanasian Canon, but the West Syriac Peshitto has all 27.   What is more, Chorepiscopus George from St. Mary's Church of the East in Los Angeles assures me the extra books are considered canonical; he said that they were left out of the Peshitta probably because the Church of the East does not use them in the liturgy.  However, he had just recently conducted a Bible Study on the Book of Revelations.  Is he correct?  Was this always the case, or did the Nestorian faction of the Church of the East at one time object to these books?  I don't know.

My guess is that since the Peshitta was written in the fourth century, probably before the 39th Paschal Encyclical (I think 430 is a common date for it), or even after, not enough time had passed for the 39th Paschal Encyclical and the opinion of St. Athanasius to become disseminated.  I think the Church of Alexandria began using these books immediately, when St. Cyril ordered the translation of the liturgy into Coptic, he made sure these were included, the Roman Church, probably under Pope Celestine, when its relations with the Alexandrian Church were at their warmest, received this list, and Constantinople probably received it from the Cappadocians, who were friends and admirers of St. Athanasius (recall St. Gregory the Theologian eulogized Athanasius, saying "To praise Athanasius is to praise virtue" on the occasion of his repose in 473; St. Basil then dying in 375 must have been especially hard on the Naziazene saint, and one cannot but sympathize with him for being too exhausted to deal with the Council of Constantinople when his presidency was challenged).

I think the West Syriac church, which became the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, appended the Athanasian canon to the Peshitta out of respect for Sts. Cyril and Athanasius, and St. Dioscorus, perhaps during the reign of St. Severus, or perhaps later, in the fifth or sixth century.  Maybe the Maronites did it before they left us.  I don't know, but, clearly, there was a process by which the 39th Paschal Encyclical came to have an influence far beyond the reach of the Church of Alexandria, and this process had to have preceded Chalcedon, since it seems very unlikely Pope St. Gelasius, a Chalcedonian, would have followed it otherwise.

Of course, the Eastern Orthodox got the presanctified liturgy and Ho Monoges from St. Severus, as well as their rejection of apthartodocetism; whereas the importation of the Ho Monoges was the result of St. Justinian imposing his will in an effort to stamp out crypto-Nestorians, the same cannot be said of the rejection of apthartodocetism, which St. Justinian actively supported.  St. Severus is the greatest secret in the Eastern Orthodox Church, which amuses me given that everyone openly venerates St. Isaac the Syrian, who was undoubtably a Nestorian, and like other Nestorians of his era, such as the Catholicos who wrote The Book of the Bee, he it has emerged thanks to Sebastian Brock also supported apokatastasis, or to be more precise, a form of universalism in which Hell is more like the Roman conception of purgatory; not everlasting for the faithful.

So I really think St. Severus ought to be venerated by the Eastern Orthodox.  But anyway, since the Eastern and Oriental churches did borrow from each other liturgically, amd since we know that the relationship between the three communions (Miaphysite, Chalcedonian and Nestorian) warmed and cooled, and at times the divisions between these churches were blurred, the Peshitto could have gained those books at any time, and it is remotely possible that Pope Gelasius published his decree after reading the Paschal encyclicals on his own or as a result of dialogue with the Coptic church, or perhaps the Alexandrian Chalcedonians.  But I think it most likely that the 39th Paschal Encyclical was already used throughout the Greek church when St. Gelasius issued his Decretum, and in issuing it, he sought to do the same thing St. Athanasius did: standardize the books read in the Roman Church and ban the apocrypha.   He simply did so with a much longer and more detailed encyclical than St. Athanasius, and with a very formidable anathema (which differs from current and even 19th century Roman Catholic doctrine on anathemas, which holds that an anathematized person can be forgiven and rejoin the cnurch if they repent).

His anathema was, however, very heavy handed, and his complete ban on the works of Tertullian was overkill, particularly since, as far as we know, Tertullian coined the word "trinitas" (although, perhaps that word is more ancient than we realize, and the Decretum is evidence of a pre-Tertullian origin for it, but Tertullian did write in the Orthodox manner until falling into Montanism, I believe one Church Father wrote of him that he was to be pitied as having fallen from a great height.  St. Epiphanius did write those same words concerning Origen Adimantius.

By the way, for reference purposes, here is the text of the entire Decretum Gelasianum:
http://www.tertullian.org/decretum_eng.htm
« Last Edit: September 17, 2017, 10:27:24 AM by Alpha60 »
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2017, 10:52:29 AM »
Lastly, Porter, to clarify with some brevity my position, I do reject completely the idea that most of the Apocrypha, with the possible exceptions of the Protoevangelion of St. James (which could have been composed from the Orthodox traditions to summarize it, rather than being the source of them), and the probably spurious Pauline epistles of Laodicieans and III Corinthians, are "fanfics" or pious frauds.

They are either sincere post-apostolic writings (the Shepherd of Hermas was the vision of the brother of St. Clement, I believe), corruptions of pre-existing works (the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Thomas, which even id my theory that the original text was Orthodox and used by St. Thomas and his disciples as a Gospel reference before Tatian wrote the Diatessaron, would still in that case be a derivative of the canonical synoptic Gospels, or a corruption thereof; the same applies to the Gospel of Peter and to all other "Gospels" that partially follow the narrative of the original; the prime example is Marcion's redaction of the Gospel of Luke and the Pauline Epistles, which you can read, along with most of this material, at gnosis.org, the library of the Gnostic Society and the Ecclesia Gnostica), or else, emtirely original compositions, which may have been distorted narratives of real events, or which may have been fully fictional, composed by the variously insane, demonaic, deluded and cynical Gnostic heresiarchs to promote Gnosticism, more specifically, their sect, but as Gnosticism is syncretic, I do believe that most of this material wound up being passed around particularly as the religion waned.

The last Christian Gnostic sect was the Paulicians; their Key of Truth, which consists of polemics against the Orthodox and survives in fragments, the last Gnostic text in use by a Gnostic community with historic roots in the ancient Gnostic faith. 

*There are five surviving religious traditions of probable Gnosticism, or which preserve a variation of or parts of Gnostic dogma,  of which one is unquestionably Gnostic: the Mandaeans, who speak Eastern Aramaic similiar to East Syriac, whose literature survives, who venerate John the Baptist, who believe the word Syriac Christians use to refer to the Holy Spirit, Ruha, is an evil malevolent spirit, and who may or may not be descended from any followers of John the Baptist who rejected Jesus, or the Hemerobaptists mentioned by St. Epiphanius.

The Druze are probably Gnostic given that their members are divided into two castes, the smaller priestly caste alone being fully indoctrinated into the faith, and they are called "Gnostics"; exogamy is forbidden and all non Druze are considered damned, and the Druze are believed to venerate Pythagoras, the originator of Gnostic dualist cosmology, or translator of it from Zarathustra and the Persian religion, and to not eat beans, although the name is not a variation on Druids (who coincidentally were also believed to have been indoctrinated into the Pythagorean mysteries), the Yazidi, whose plight at the hands of ISIL and whose false accusation of devil worship is probably known by everyone reading this board, but in 2013 when I learned of them, they remained obscure, the Yarsani, whose faith is like that of the Yazidis in most respects, and finally, certain schools of Sufi Islam, whose teachings suggest Sufi syncretism with Christian Gnostics, who were already predisposed towards syncretism, the Alevis, Alawis, Bektasis and Mevlevis, for example.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2017, 10:58:09 AM »
The protoevangelion of James probably provided the Nativity narrative of Marty/Luke. It's debatable which gospels precede which. Proto James or Peter are old enough to make one wonder .

The "Gospel According to Peter" could be legitimate, or rather, could have been legitimate; the problem is that it is fragmentary, and its ending contains some wierdness that smacks of Docetism or Gnosticism.

The problem is that it is a fragment.  It was respectfully buried with a Coptic monk in the Ninth Century, who may have had the last surviving copy and been an advocate of it; that it was respectfully buried with him at a canonical Coptic monastery suggests that the Abbot could not attest to its legitimacy, but found no reason to despise it, and at the same time, recognized that monk loved it, so, wishing to avoid any possible future confusion or propagation of error, when that monk died, he buried it with him.  Then, over the centuries, it, like its owner, decomposed, leaving us with just an extremely lucid passion narrative with an extremely funky and bizarre ending, which is incomplete.

So perhaps the book was not a full Gospel, thus, not threatening the idea of there being four Gospels; perhaps it was The Passion According to St. Peter, and perhaps it had an ending which became more conventional and less docetic, but that portion is missing.   Or perhaps it was a complete Gospel which the early Church could not authenticate and thus did not preserve.

Well, St. Mark's Gospel has three endings depending on which manuscript you accept.

My guess is that whatever it was wasn't widely available enough to be considered. The accepted NT gospels, epistles and pseudepigrapha all had wide circulation. The same wasn't true for the majority of the gnostic, apocryphal or non-canonical works listed.

Quote
The Armenians for a while had a 3 Corinthians, which is so bland, that, like the Epistle of St. Paul to the Laodiceans, it is either a pious forgery, or utterly useless, but this also was not read liturgically.

So sort of a NT equivalent of 2 Esdras/1 Ezra?
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2017, 11:11:57 AM »
By the way, lest I be condemned for verbosity, the above posts represent nearly my entire knowledge regarding New Testament apocrypha, as a whole, at present.   My goal was to completely answer Porter's question.  Regarding Gnosticism, and NT apocrypha, I believe this is one area where I have, not expertise, but as much familiarity as any layman might be expected to have; I own copies of the works of recent pro-Gnostic scholars like Karen King, dean of the Harvard School of Divinity (which btw is the main seminary for the Unitarian Universalist churches, but which has a fantastic library), Elaine Pagels, and others; I have read many works on the Gospel of Thomas specifically, such as The Five Gospels, and I have a copy of A New New Testament, which blends Gnostic apocrypha into the canonical scriptures; I have also read on this subject the entirety of St. Irenaeus and St. Epiphanius, and several other Patristic commentaries, and also the works of numerous 19th and 20th century scholars on Gnosticism, sourced from the Catholic Encyclopedia and the Jewish Encyclopedia.

The only thing I have not provided is a catalogue summarizing the contents of, and commenting on, all of the specific surviving works of Gnostic literature and New Testament apocrypha known to me; that would take much time.  But if anyone has a specific question about a specific work, ask.  I can also link you to copies of all of it.  Most of the Gnostic works can be found on gnosis.org, except for the Gospel of Peter, for some reason.  But really Porter, if you Google it, you can find it, but if you need help with the Googling, I stand ready to assist; I have a complete index of NT apocrypha, and I believe there are also complete indices of NT apocrypha and Gnostic literature on Wikipedia.

If I were to shoot for a Bachelors degree in Theology, I would probably focus on Gnostic studies, because I know the field very well, and would have a strong head start.  I would need to pick my university carefully however, because I do not like Gnosticism; I find it fascinating, yet utterly inferior to the Orthodox faith.  Everything good that it had we also have.  What is more seductive are some of the neo-Gnostic sects, like some Episcopal parishes and the Ecclesia Gnostica, but here I am stopped from yielding to the temptation to embrace these cults by my knowledge of the extreme evils of ancient Gnosticism, and also the certain and undeniable love and remarkable events I have experienced in Holy Orthodoxy, events convincing me of the objective truth of this religion.

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If anyone with more knowledge than me on this subject wishes to interject or correct any of the posts I have made, please do so. if you see any errors.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2017, 11:36:32 AM »
The protoevangelion of James probably provided the Nativity narrative of Marty/Luke. It's debatable which gospels precede which. Proto James or Peter are old enough to make one wonder .

The "Gospel According to Peter" could be legitimate, or rather, could have been legitimate; the problem is that it is fragmentary, and its ending contains some wierdness that smacks of Docetism or Gnosticism.

The problem is that it is a fragment.  It was respectfully buried with a Coptic monk in the Ninth Century, who may have had the last surviving copy and been an advocate of it; that it was respectfully buried with him at a canonical Coptic monastery suggests that the Abbot could not attest to its legitimacy, but found no reason to despise it, and at the same time, recognized that monk loved it, so, wishing to avoid any possible future confusion or propagation of error, when that monk died, he buried it with him.  Then, over the centuries, it, like its owner, decomposed, leaving us with just an extremely lucid passion narrative with an extremely funky and bizarre ending, which is incomplete.

So perhaps the book was not a full Gospel, thus, not threatening the idea of there being four Gospels; perhaps it was The Passion According to St. Peter, and perhaps it had an ending which became more conventional and less docetic, but that portion is missing.   Or perhaps it was a complete Gospel which the early Church could not authenticate and thus did not preserve.

Well, St. Mark's Gospel has three endings depending on which manuscript you accept.

My guess is that whatever it was wasn't widely available enough to be considered. The accepted NT gospels, epistles and pseudepigrapha all had wide circulation. The same wasn't true for the majority of the gnostic, apocryphal or non-canonical works listed.


I agree.  That said, I am aware of only two endings of St. Mark; one where Chapter 16 stops at verse 8, and one where it continues to verse 20.

If you are referring to the Secret Gospel of Mark, the letter puporting to quote from it and the scholar, a Dr. Morton, have been discredited, the work exposed as a probable fraud.

Quote
Quote
The Armenians for a while had a 3 Corinthians, which is so bland, that, like the Epistle of St. Paul to the Laodiceans, it is either a pious forgery, or utterly useless, but this also was not read liturgically.

So sort of a NT equivalent of 2 Esdras/1 Ezra?

Well, I wouldn't say that; 4 Esdras perhaps, which St. Jerome preserved along with Laodiceans and I think, 3 Esdras, "lesr they perish entirely."  However, I realize there is a slight difference between the RC and EO canons on these works, and I can't keep them straight.  So I am going to venture to say Judith instead; I do not get the theological point of Judith or see the value it provides to the Byzantine canon; I feel it is there just because the LXX has it.  Psalm 151 might be another example, in that it is short, rather obvious, rather like Laodiceans, a bit redundant, except its actually beautiful, but we do not read it in church; it has a status equivalent to 3 Corinthians in the Armenian Church.

I actually like Psalms 151-155.  I think 152-155 were in some copies of the Peshitta; I believe they survived only in Syriac.  Are they authentic and inspired?  Perhaps not, but they are very good Psalms.

People have in the past by the way added to the Psalter various hymns not written by King David, and John Wesley, in his Sunday Service Book for the Methodists of North America, replaced the imprecatory Psalms with hymns composed by his brother Charles, in the included Psalter.

  As I have mentioned before, John Wesley I believe to be basically Orthodox and worthy of veneration owing to his (uncanonical) ordination by Erasmus of Arcadia and his attempt to teach Theosis to the Church of England; I think John Wesley and Jan Hus are as worthy of veneration as St. Isaac the Syrian, and as a Methodist, my studies of John Wesley and my studies of Orthodoxy convinced me while I was flirting with Episcopalianism that I should be Orthodox, due to the doctrine of Theosis; I thought about attempting to start a reform movement in the Methodist Church, even compiling a Divine Liturgy of John Wesley to be used alongside the standard Orthodox liturgies, before realizing that such an endeavour is hopeless due to entrenched Pietism and the fact that no one has taught Wesley since the 1820s; except for chuches from the Holiness Movement, which distorted his doctrine of Entire Sanctification, making it very different from Theosis, and ultimately giving rise to the abominable heresy of Pentecostalism.   But I would not be Orthodox without John Wesley.  However, in the entire time Imwas in the Methodist Church, no one ever taught me anything about him, and while we sang plemty of hymns by his brother, seldom did we sing one on the Trinity, or one of the many having to do with Theosis (Charles Wesley was also a bit less Orthodox; John Wesley sometimes had to edit his hymns to correct doctrinal errors).
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2017, 01:48:00 PM »
The protoevangelion of James probably provided the Nativity narrative of Marty/Luke. It's debatable which gospels precede which. Proto James or Peter are old enough to make one wonder .

The "Gospel According to Peter" could be legitimate, or rather, could have been legitimate; the problem is that it is fragmentary, and its ending contains some wierdness that smacks of Docetism or Gnosticism.

The problem is that it is a fragment.  It was respectfully buried with a Coptic monk in the Ninth Century, who may have had the last surviving copy and been an advocate of it; that it was respectfully buried with him at a canonical Coptic monastery suggests that the Abbot could not attest to its legitimacy, but found no reason to despise it, and at the same time, recognized that monk loved it, so, wishing to avoid any possible future confusion or propagation of error, when that monk died, he buried it with him.  Then, over the centuries, it, like its owner, decomposed, leaving us with just an extremely lucid passion narrative with an extremely funky and bizarre ending, which is incomplete.

So perhaps the book was not a full Gospel, thus, not threatening the idea of there being four Gospels; perhaps it was The Passion According to St. Peter, and perhaps it had an ending which became more conventional and less docetic, but that portion is missing.   Or perhaps it was a complete Gospel which the early Church could not authenticate and thus did not preserve.

Well, St. Mark's Gospel has three endings depending on which manuscript you accept.

My guess is that whatever it was wasn't widely available enough to be considered. The accepted NT gospels, epistles and pseudepigrapha all had wide circulation. The same wasn't true for the majority of the gnostic, apocryphal or non-canonical works listed.


I agree.  That said, I am aware of only two endings of St. Mark; one where Chapter 16 stops at verse 8, and one where it continues to verse 20.

If you are referring to the Secret Gospel of Mark, the letter puporting to quote from it and the scholar, a Dr. Morton, have been discredited, the work exposed as a probable fraud.

Some manuscripts end at verse 8, some go on to verse 20, and then there's the so called "shorter ending," which has only one surviving manuscript: "And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation." (Quoted here from the Oxford Annotated NRSV, p. 91 NT, 2001 edition.)
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2017, 08:46:11 PM »
The protoevangelion of James probably provided the Nativity narrative of Marty/Luke. It's debatable which gospels precede which. Proto James or Peter are old enough to make one wonder .

The "Gospel According to Peter" could be legitimate, or rather, could have been legitimate; the problem is that it is fragmentary, and its ending contains some wierdness that smacks of Docetism or Gnosticism.

The problem is that it is a fragment.  It was respectfully buried with a Coptic monk in the Ninth Century, who may have had the last surviving copy and been an advocate of it; that it was respectfully buried with him at a canonical Coptic monastery suggests that the Abbot could not attest to its legitimacy, but found no reason to despise it, and at the same time, recognized that monk loved it, so, wishing to avoid any possible future confusion or propagation of error, when that monk died, he buried it with him.  Then, over the centuries, it, like its owner, decomposed, leaving us with just an extremely lucid passion narrative with an extremely funky and bizarre ending, which is incomplete.

So perhaps the book was not a full Gospel, thus, not threatening the idea of there being four Gospels; perhaps it was The Passion According to St. Peter, and perhaps it had an ending which became more conventional and less docetic, but that portion is missing.   Or perhaps it was a complete Gospel which the early Church could not authenticate and thus did not preserve.

Well, St. Mark's Gospel has three endings depending on which manuscript you accept.

My guess is that whatever it was wasn't widely available enough to be considered. The accepted NT gospels, epistles and pseudepigrapha all had wide circulation. The same wasn't true for the majority of the gnostic, apocryphal or non-canonical works listed.


I agree.  That said, I am aware of only two endings of St. Mark; one where Chapter 16 stops at verse 8, and one where it continues to verse 20.

If you are referring to the Secret Gospel of Mark, the letter puporting to quote from it and the scholar, a Dr. Morton, have been discredited, the work exposed as a probable fraud.

Some manuscripts end at verse 8, some go on to verse 20, and then there's the so called "shorter ending," which has only one surviving manuscript: "And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation." (Quoted here from the Oxford Annotated NRSV, p. 91 NT, 2001 edition.)

Actually, the Shorter Ending is 16:8.  The variant manuscript you cite is considered to be a subtype of the "Longer Ending", which sometimes contains the text and sometimes does not, between verses 8 and 9.  The sole manuscripr that contains it at the conclusion of verse 8 is an anomaly, a late manuscript with no textual provenance and probably a typographical error (e.g. The copyist running out of writing material or getting a hand cramp).

See also my point about ancient surviving manuscripts with textual variants being defective.  The Book of Kells, for example, is textually defective, and it is the only Irish illuminated evangelion of sich a quality as to rival the Syriac Orthodox Rabbula Gospel.

I propose there were many such manuscripts of similiar or superior quality to the Book of Kells, but because the Book of Kells was textually defective, it was set aside, and used either only rarely as a backup, when its text was correct, or more likely used as an aesthetic model owing to its beauty, of the standard of quality that monastery expected of its artisan-scribes, and perhaps also as a "floor model" to show to wealthy visitors to the monastery, French, English and Dutch Lords as well as the local Irish nobility, to help the monastery sell illuminated manuscripts of equivalent quality for use in royal chapels,  i suspect that the sale of illuminated manuscripts was something the monasteries made money off of; we can be certain the Syrian Monastery and the Monastery of Mor Mattai only translated the writings of the Greek fathers into Arabic for use by the Muslims either for protection or financial gain.

The Rule of St. Benedict requires monks to live from the work of their hands, and the amount of handiwork required to produce a manuscript like the Book of Kells could not be justified as a Benedictine obedience unless it contributed to the prosperity of the monastery.

Thus, it was a display piece; either the monastery obtained donations as a result of people seeing it and being wowed, or else, it was used to market similiar manuscripts.  Those manuscripts, being textually correct, were then heavily used, worked until the point where they fell apart and disintegrated, surviving only in a few fragments.

For this reason, I also suspect the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanum of being either Arian-influenced productions of Eusebius of Caesarea, which were set aside when the Orthodox regained control, thus, they survived, whereas complete Bible codices of similiar antiquity do not.  The Byzantine Text Type is not just the liturgical tradition of the Greek Orthodox Church; the Peshitta amd Vulgate also align with it, as well as the ancient Coptic manuscripts, so we can write off the entire Alexandrian text type, the so called Minority Text, as worthless; even if it was not the product of heretics, it is not the Bible Holy Tradition has handed down to us, and is of use only to people who adhere to a Restorationist or crypto Restorationist perspective, the idea that the entire church fell into a Great Apostasy is not limited to fundamentalists and Mormons, but liberals as well, who accuse the Orthodox of suppressing Gnostic apocrypha that threatened the Patriarchal society or was contrary to their desired doctrine, which was simply one of many competing and potentially equally valid approaches to understanding Christ in the early centuries.  See the book The Heresy of Orthodoxy, or take a look at the writings of Elaine Pagels, or the ridiculous comparison of Mark and John entitled This Tragic Gospel for examples of liberal Restorationism.  Or the "New New Testament" and the Jesus Seminar.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2017, 11:11:27 PM »
all amulets which are compiled not in the name of the angels as they pretend but are written in the names of great demons   apocrypha
These and those similar ones, which Simon Magus, Nicolaus, Cerinthus, Marcion, Basilides, Ebion, Paul of Samosata, Photinus and Bonosus, who suffered from similar error, also Montanus with his obscene followers, Apollinaris, Valentinus the Manichaean, Faustus the African, Sabellius, Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Novatus, Sabbatius, Calistus, Donatus, Eustasius, Jovianus, Pelagius, Julian of Eclanum, Caelestius, Maximian, Priscillian from Spain, Nestorius of Constantinople, Maximus the Cynic, Lampetius, Dioscorus, Eutyches, Peter and the other Peter, of whom one disgraced Alexandria and the other Antioch, Acacius of Constantinople with his associates, and what also all disciples of heresy and of the heretics and schismatics, whose names we have scarcely preserved, have taught or compiled, we acknowledge is to be not merely rejected but eliminated from the whole Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and with their authors and the followers of its authors to be damned in the inextricable shackles of anathema forever.
Wait a sec...

Also, his decree probably refers to the Proto-Evangelion of James, from which the traditions of the Nativity of the Theotokos and the Presentation of the Theotokos are derived.  I believe, because that Proto-Evangelion describes events commemorated by the Orthodox Church, it should be accepted into the same category of supplementary extracanonical material as the Shepherd of Hermas.  Likewise, I suspect his Canons of the Apostles refers either to the Apostolic Canons, which we use, or those of Hippolytus, which contain an Anaphora the Ethiopians use, or Didache or Didascalia, the Didache ought to be uncontroversial as an early church order, and the Didascalia is in the Ethiopian Broader Canon.  However, the Apostolic Constitutions, which contains two orders for the divine liturgy and other services, does appear to contain heretical content.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2017, 08:50:54 AM »
all amulets which are compiled not in the name of the angels as they pretend but are written in the names of great demons   apocrypha
These and those similar ones, which Simon Magus, Nicolaus, Cerinthus, Marcion, Basilides, Ebion, Paul of Samosata, Photinus and Bonosus, who suffered from similar error, also Montanus with his obscene followers, Apollinaris, Valentinus the Manichaean, Faustus the African, Sabellius, Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Novatus, Sabbatius, Calistus, Donatus, Eustasius, Jovianus, Pelagius, Julian of Eclanum, Caelestius, Maximian, Priscillian from Spain, Nestorius of Constantinople, Maximus the Cynic, Lampetius, Dioscorus, Eutyches, Peter and the other Peter, of whom one disgraced Alexandria and the other Antioch, Acacius of Constantinople with his associates, and what also all disciples of heresy and of the heretics and schismatics, whose names we have scarcely preserved, have taught or compiled, we acknowledge is to be not merely rejected but eliminated from the whole Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and with their authors and the followers of its authors to be damned in the inextricable shackles of anathema forever.
Wait a sec...

Also, his decree probably refers to the Proto-Evangelion of James, from which the traditions of the Nativity of the Theotokos and the Presentation of the Theotokos are derived.  I believe, because that Proto-Evangelion describes events commemorated by the Orthodox Church, it should be accepted into the same category of supplementary extracanonical material as the Shepherd of Hermas.  Likewise, I suspect his Canons of the Apostles refers either to the Apostolic Canons, which we use, or those of Hippolytus, which contain an Anaphora the Ethiopians use, or Didache or Didascalia, the Didache ought to be uncontroversial as an early church order, and the Didascalia is in the Ethiopian Broader Canon.  However, the Apostolic Constitutions, which contains two orders for the divine liturgy and other services, does appear to contain heretical content.
+1

Oh, the forum is usual anti-OO material of the sort we have to tune out, written by people who were either crypto-Nestorian or ignorant of what happened at Chalcedon, or in the case of Pope Gelasius, inclined to side with Pope Leo and actively seeking to defend and increase the political power of the Roman Church, even as the Western Empire and the power of its emperors collapsed.  St. Augustine's City or God was I think misinterpreted by some as saying that since the Roman Empire was unstable and did not matter, Rome should instead be that "city of God", and make increasing the power of its archbishop the main priority.

Certainly St. Gregory Diologos did not feel this way, however; when Rome was sacked repeatedly and the child emperor Augustula deposed, he was forced to take over the civil administration, which he managed competently, superbly, in fact, but there is nothing to suggest he desired temporal power.  Rather, the people looked to him as their only hope of temporal security and leadership.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2017, 11:43:26 PM »
The following from our dear Alpha60 got me thinking this could be a topic for further debate:

By the way, one of our saints condemned a Gospel of Thomas as written not by the Apostle, but by Thomas the disciple of Mani.  I have come to believe this refers not to the text uncovered at Nag Hammadi, but rather, to the horrific Protoevangelion of Thomas, which blasphemously depicts our Lord in his childhood killing people for his own amusement.  The latter text was much more widely known, was never lost, and was published at a time when the Protoevangelion of St. James, and other literature about the childhood of our Lord, was extremely popular.  But it is a vile and pernicious text, and thus one can see why it was one of the earliest Gnostic texts to be denounced by name by a saintly Orthodox bishop.

I used to have a thick volume of Proto-Gospels, Acts of the Etc., and Apocalypses; I loaned it to someone and lost it (reader, here is wisdom). These aren't read in Churches, and only a few are referred to in the Fathers. And at the time I read them, I thought most seemed too imaginative and triumphalist to be anything but pious fabrications. Now that Alpha thinks some of them are even "vile and pernicious," I have to reconsider -- perhaps they are texts of substance I overlooked ...

Debate!

Never loan books; I believe books should only be given.  However, in thid case you are in luck; 100% of the extant NT Apocrypha, with the possible exception of the recently discovered Gospel of Judas, which I have not read, is available on the Internet.

The Proto-Evangelion of Thomas is truly vile blasphemy; it depicts our Savior, Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, killing his school teacher and other children for his own amusement.  He later brings them back only after a scolding from Sts. Mary and Joseph.

How is that not utter blasphemy?

Of all the Gnostic writings that survive, the Proto-Evangelion of Thomas is the only one I find outright offensive.


Most of the books in question were anathematized, their authors "damned inexorably to Hell forever" in the Decretum Gelasianium of 493, by Pope Gelasius I, the most strongly worded anathema I have encountered and the only one denying explicitly the possibility of forgiveness.

Here is the list:

Quote
firstly we confess that the synod of Sirmium called together by Constantius Caesar the son of Constantine through the Prefect Taurus is damned then and now and for ever.
the Itinerary in the name of Peter the apostle, which is called the nine books of the holy Clement   apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Andrew   apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Thomas   apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Peter   apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Philip   apocryphal
the Gospel in the name of Mathias   apocryphal
the Gospel in the name of Barnabas   apocryphum
the Gospel in the name of James the younger   apocryphum
the Gospel in the name of the apostle Peter   apocryphum
the Gospel in the name of Thomas which the Manichaeans use   apocryphum
the Gospels in the name of Bartholomew   apocrypha
the Gospels in the name of Andrew   apocrypha
the Gospels which Lucianus forged   apocrypha
the Gospels which Hesychius forged   apocrypha
the book on the infancy of the saviour   apocryphus
the book of the nativity of the saviour and of Mary or the midwife   apocryphus
the book which is called by the name of the Shepherd   apocryphus
all the books which Leucius the disciple of the devil made   apocryphi
the book which is called the Foundation   apocryphus
the book which is called the Treasure   apocryphus
the book of the daughters of Adam Leptogeneseos   apocryphus
the cento on Christ put together in Virgilian verses   apocryphum
the book which is called the Acts of Thecla and Paul   apocryphus
the book which is called Nepos's   apocryphus
the books of Proverbs written by heretics and prefixed with the name of holy Sixtus    apocryphus
the Revelation which is called Paul's   apocrypha
the Revelation which is called Thomas's   apocrypha
the Revelation which is called Stephen's   apocrypha
the book which is called the Assumption of holy Mary   apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of Adam   apocryphus
the book about Og the giant of whom the heretics assert that after the deluge he fought with the dragon   apocryphus
the book which is called the Testament of Job   apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of Origen   apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of holy Cyprian   apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of Jamne and Mambre   apocryphus
the book which is called the Lots of the apostles   apocryphus
the book which is called the grave-plate (?)  of the apostles   apocryphus
the book which is called the canons of the apostles   apocryphus
the book Physiologus written by heretics and prefixed with the name of blessed Ambrose   apocryphus
the History of Eusebius Pamphilii   apocrypha
the works of Tertullian   apocrypha
the works of Lactantius also known as Firmianus   apocrypha
the works of Africanus   apocrypha
the works of Postumianus and Gallus   apocrypha
the works of Montanus, Priscilla and Maximilla   apocrypha
the works of Faustus the Manichaean   apocrypha
the works of Commodian   apocrypha
the works of the other Clement, of Alexandria   apocrypha
the works of Thascius Cyprianus   apocrypha
the works of Arnobius   apocrypha
the works of Tichonius   apocrypha
the works of Cassian the Gallic priest   apocrypha
the works of Victorinus of Pettau   apocrypha
the works of Faustus of Riez in Gaul   apocrypha
the works of Frumentius Caecus   apocrypha
the cento on Christ stitched together from verses of Virgil   apocryphum
the Letter from Jesus to Abgar   apocrypha
the Letter of Abgar to Jesus   apocrypha
the Passion of Cyricus and Julitta   apocrypha
the Passion of Georgius   apocrypha
the writing which is called the Interdiction of Solomon   apocrypha
all amulets which are compiled not in the name of the angels as they pretend but are written in the names of great demons   apocrypha
These and those similar ones, which Simon Magus, Nicolaus, Cerinthus, Marcion, Basilides, Ebion, Paul of Samosata, Photinus and Bonosus, who suffered from similar error, also Montanus with his obscene followers, Apollinaris, Valentinus the Manichaean, Faustus the African, Sabellius, Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Novatus, Sabbatius, Calistus, Donatus, Eustasius, Jovianus, Pelagius, Julian of Eclanum, Caelestius, Maximian, Priscillian from Spain, Nestorius of Constantinople, Maximus the Cynic, Lampetius, Dioscorus, Eutyches, Peter and the other Peter, of whom one disgraced Alexandria and the other Antioch, Acacius of Constantinople with his associates, and what also all disciples of heresy and of the heretics and schismatics, whose names we have scarcely preserved, have taught or compiled, we acknowledge is to be not merely rejected but eliminated from the whole Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and with their authors and the followers of its authors to be damned in the inextricable shackles of anathema forever.

The one you just mentioned is, to me, is rather offensive. I've read it.

In this gospel, essentially, Judas Iscariot is chosen by Jesus Christ to betray Him, and Jesus appoints Judas as the greatest apostle, whose seed will rule over everyone else in the Apocalypse.

Also, Jesus is portrayed in a very demeaning manner - he constantly mocks the Apostles about how ignorant they are and laughs at them, and is also an astrologist apparently. It is VERY, VERY Gnostic. Apparently, an angel also made Adam and Eve out of its image.

You can read it here:
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/_pdf/GospelofJudas.pdf

It's a rather short read but rather strange.

There are a bit of gaps in the text, so we are missing a bit of the context.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 11:46:33 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2017, 03:40:28 PM »
Vile, but tame compared to the Proto-evangelion of Thomas.  Perhaps both have a Manichaean origin, after Thomas and Hermes stopped trying to depict Manichaenism as ordinary Christianity and instead opted for shock value.

I have been evaluating the Gospel of Thomas by the way, and on reflection, I think the possibility should be considered it is Manichaean, due to a few specific remarks about the Light contained therein; a Manichaean corruption of a sayings document rendered obsolete by the Diatessaron of Tatian, who himself later set up shop as a Gnostic.

Specifically, if we look at the Decretum Gelasianum, the Book of the Infancy of the Savior could well refer to the Protoevangelium of Thomas; the other item on that list clearly refers to the Protoevangelium of James.

However, there is also mentioned a Gospel of James, which is an alternate name for the Proto-evangelium, so it is possible these two works existed under different titles, and Gelasius was seeking to refer to each one by its known titles, lest anyone inadvertantly use one under a different title.  It would have been better, alas, had he summarized the contents and rationale for banning each one in the same manner that St. Epiphanius summarized the reasons for anathematizing each heresy, before covering that heresy in greater detail.   If we count it that way however, and say both the Gospel of Thomas and the account of the infancy of our Savior refer to the same Manichaean book, which does make sense in light of the depraved behavior of Mani; then we still have an extra Gospel of Thomas, one which is peppered with foul obviously Gnostic statements, but one which also contains a lot of canonical Synoptic content, and which could in some cases offer legitimate alternate readings. 

The Jesus Seminar voted the Gospel of Thomas the most authentic gospel and the Gospel of John the least authentic, using a deeply flawed voting system that gave the Catholic and traditional Protestant participants no real way to veto a saying of our Lord being rejected.  This biased voting system might be turned on its head a bit; it might be interesting to collect every statement attributed to Jesus Christ in every book, from the canonical Gospels to the Manichaean John Book, to the Book of Mormon, as false as the latter is entirely, and then do some studies both with the well-read Orthodox and with people ignorant of the text, and perhaps unaware the statements are attributed to our Lord, to rate the extent to which they feel each sentence was uttered by the same or different authors.  I would suspect such a test would vihdicate the Gospel of John and also provide us with a sort of Philocalia of "safe quotations" from the Gnostic apocrypha, just as the Cappodacians provided us a Philocalia of the heresy-free writings of Origen Adimantius.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2017, 04:42:08 PM »
I know this view has no currency here and I dismissed it myself in ages past, but I think it's a fiction to think there was some original orthodoxy from which the apocryphal gospels departed. Now, looking at their diversity it's more rwsonable to assume that Christianity contained from its beginnings all sorts of tendencies  .  It's just that the Catholic party emerged victorious by the end of the second century.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2017, 05:02:41 PM »
I know this view has no currency here and I dismissed it myself in ages past, but I think it's a fiction to think there was some original orthodoxy from which the apocryphal gospels departed. Now, looking at their diversity it's more rwsonable to assume that Christianity contained from its beginnings all sorts of tendencies  .  It's just that the Catholic party emerged victorious by the end of the second century.
Sounds like Bart Ehrman's view. Are you reading any of his writings on this topic?
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Offline LivenotoneviL

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2017, 10:28:38 PM »
I know this view has no currency here and I dismissed it myself in ages past, but I think it's a fiction to think there was some original orthodoxy from which the apocryphal gospels departed. Now, looking at their diversity it's more rwsonable to assume that Christianity contained from its beginnings all sorts of tendencies  .  It's just that the Catholic party emerged victorious by the end of the second century.

From my own knowledge,
Considering the Epistles from the Apostles (especially Paul writing to different communities about how wrong their practices are) and Early Church Fathers (especially that of Clement, who complains about how illegitimate and contrary to the Church it is to usurp the authority of bishops), as well as many other Church documents like the Didache, not to mention the constant terms of "bishop" and "presbyter" which are used in these letters, there appeared to be some kind of organizational apparatus and necessary standards, and even from Paul's letters, such issues about "not maintaining an Orthodox Gospel" show up.

It's not like early Christians were all Sola Scriptura Protestants, each having their own unique canon.

Sure, you can argue that Paul was wrong and the Gnostics were right, and the Orthodox organizational apparatus won out, but then you would have to presume that Peter and the other Apostles, who knew Paul and who personally knew Jesus Christ Himself were all wrong and they all instantaneously fell into Apostasy.

Which, from Christian theology, makes little sense as to why Jesus Christ would command people to establish communities everywhere if everything would all at once fall.


I know this view has no currency here and I dismissed it myself in ages past, but I think it's a fiction to think there was some original orthodoxy from which the apocryphal gospels departed. Now, looking at their diversity it's more rwsonable to assume that Christianity contained from its beginnings all sorts of tendencies  .  It's just that the Catholic party emerged victorious by the end of the second century.

If you dismissed it as flawed, why are you bringing it up? To have someone else defeat your argument?
« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 10:34:03 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Offline Story

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2017, 10:43:56 PM »
From my own knowledge,
Considering the Epistles from the Apostles (especially Paul writing to different communities about how wrong their practices are) and Early Church Fathers (especially that of Clement, who complains about how illegitimate and contrary to the Church it is to usurp the authority of bishops), as well as many other Church documents like the Didache, not to mention the constant terms of "bishop" and "presbyter" which are used in these letters, there appeared to be some kind of organizational apparatus and necessary standards, and even from Paul's letters, such issues about "not maintaining an Orthodox Gospel" show up.

It's not like early Christians were all Sola Scriptura Protestants, each having their own unique canon.

Sure, you can argue that Paul was wrong and the Gnostics were right, and the Orthodox organizational apparatus won out, but then you would have to presume that Peter and the other Apostles, who knew Paul and who personally knew Jesus Christ Himself were all wrong and they all instantaneously fell into Apostasy.

Which, from Christian theology, makes little sense as to why Jesus Christ would command people to establish communities everywhere if everything would all at once fall.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2017, 03:25:22 PM »
I know this view has no currency here and I dismissed it myself in ages past, but I think it's a fiction to think there was some original orthodoxy from which the apocryphal gospels departed. Now, looking at their diversity it's more rwsonable to assume that Christianity contained from its beginnings all sorts of tendencies  .  It's just that the Catholic party emerged victorious by the end of the second century.

From my own knowledge,
Considering the Epistles from the Apostles (especially Paul writing to different communities about how wrong their practices are) and Early Church Fathers (especially that of Clement, who complains about how illegitimate and contrary to the Church it is to usurp the authority of bishops), as well as many other Church documents like the Didache, not to mention the constant terms of "bishop" and "presbyter" which are used in these letters, there appeared to be some kind of organizational apparatus and necessary standards, and even from Paul's letters, such issues about "not maintaining an Orthodox Gospel" show up.

I'm not here to argue augustin's point, but bishop/presbyter is a term that has evolved somewhat throughout history. Ecclesiology as we understand it did not firm up somewhat for several decades.

Quote
It's not like early Christians were all Sola Scriptura Protestants, each having their own unique canon.
There were several canons, though.

Quote
Sure, you can argue that Paul was wrong and the Gnostics were right, and the Orthodox organizational apparatus won out, but then you would have to presume that Peter and the other Apostles, who knew Paul and who personally knew Jesus Christ Himself were all wrong and they all instantaneously fell into Apostasy.
I think augustin's idea is that there was initially no such thing as apostasy as there were multiple Christianities to begin with. Orthodoxy depended on the party affiliation.

You can see this somewhat in the Epistles ("I am with Peter; I am with Paul; I am with Apollos"); in the Acts and St. Paul's polemic (circumcision vs. uncircumcision, etc.), the Gospel of John's anti-gnosis bent, etc.

Where I'd break is that I believe the catholic party that won the day was the truest distillation of the faith of the apostles. Faith, I guess.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 03:26:17 PM by Agabus »
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Offline Rohzek

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #23 on: September 20, 2017, 04:50:32 PM »
Now, I think it is safe to say that Pope Gelasius, in the manner typical of the extremely conservative ancient Roman Church, which had the most minimalistic liturgy, which did not even admit antiphons but sang in monotone (or perhaps monody) until St. Ambrose in 385 and the gradual introduction of the Greek-based Ambrosian and Gregorian chant, a church which prior to Pope Leo was without controversy in any of the doctrinal disputes except for a brief period of near-Arianism in the 350s, and a church which one ancient Greek father made a pilgrimage to solely on account of the steadfastness with which they had adhered to the ancient faith, did go a bit overboard.

Yeah, he definitely went overboard. St. Faustus of Reitz is not apocryphal.

That Tatian, who would later embrace Gnosticism, composed his Didascalia from the four canonical Gospels, however, is a huge blow to the idea that the ancient canonical church ever embraced more than four primary Gospel narratives, and then inadvertantly or intentionally changed its mind due to ecclesiastical politics and rejected those it disliked, the view taken by the naive Elaine Pagels, Karen King and Rev. Peter Owen Jones.

I don't think it is fair to refer to Elaine Pagels as naïve.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 04:50:48 PM by Rohzek »
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2017, 12:00:32 AM »
Is Pope Gelasius commemorated as a Saint in the Orthodox Church? Because I recall LBK slamming Rakovsky and me for questioning the King Abgar stuff.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 12:00:47 AM by Volnutt »
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2017, 12:29:30 AM »
Even in the 2nd century it was proven that some writings like Acts of Paul and Thecla were fanfic. The author was caught forging it.

But what about the Epistula Apostolorum from the 2nd c. AD?

I read that it is within the canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and counters gnosticism. But it seems to have fallen by the wayside for the other churches.

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Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2017, 01:45:45 AM »
I know this view has no currency here and I dismissed it myself in ages past, but I think it's a fiction to think there was some original orthodoxy from which the apocryphal gospels departed. Now, looking at their diversity it's more rwsonable to assume that Christianity contained from its beginnings all sorts of tendencies  .  It's just that the Catholic party emerged victorious by the end of the second century.

There is a long list of problems with that view however:

1.'the four gospels were already being written about at the beginning of the second century
2. Tatian, in the mid second century, composed the Syriac Gospel Harmony, used as the Gospel Book in the Syriac speaking churches of Sts. Thomas, Addai and Mari, from all four canonical Gospels, excluding all heretical Gnostic gospels, despite later founding a Gnostic sect and being a possible author of some of the apocrypha, like the Acts of Thomas (which features a liturgy which looks a lot like the early Orthodox liturgies, such as Hippolytus, Serapion and the Apostolic Constitutions, if memory serves).
3. All of the Gnostic Gospels share common themes which are entirely absent from the canonical Gospels: secret transmission of knowledge and Docetism, and all, except for the fragmented Gospel of Peter, also contain our Lord teaching Gnostic Dualism, mocking the disciples except for his chosen recipient of the secret gnosis, which varied from text to text, as being stupid fools, and a similiar set of blasphemies.  Marcion's recension of Luke and the Pauline epistles added nothing new, but deleted everything contradictory to Gnostic dualism.

4. The earliest references to the Gnostic works come from the writings of Orthodox-Catholic Christians, who express a familiarity with the works, for example, St. Epiphanius identified the Gospel of Truth, in the fourth century, as authored by Valentinus and containing his doctrine, and the recovered gospel indeed agrees with everything we know about Valentinus, from diverse sources.

5.  The Gnostics practiced syncretism and dissimulation; Gnostic sects as a rule did not value martyrdom except in exceptional cases, mainly when it happened to their founder (see Manichaenism, which was already set up by Mani as a dissimulated religion, with him sending three probably psuedonymous disciples, one, who took the name Thomas, to preach to the Syriac speaking Christians in Persia, Mesopotamia and Syria, where Mani dared not go as the Sassanian king was hunting for him, blaming him for the death of his son, one, named Hermes, to Egypt, to preach to Pagans, Caanite Gnostics and Gnostic followers of Hermed Trimestigus, and one named Buddha, to India, where Buddhism was still a major religion (scarecely known in the West).  Gnostic sects would seek to merge with other Gnostic sects or disguise themselves as other religions similiar to Gnosticism, thus, the only surviving Manichaean building is at first glance a Buddhist temple, and the Druze, Alevi/Alawi and Bektasi religions are ostensibly forms of Shia Islam, but embrace a range of Gnostic doctrine.

6.  The Church lacked the power to do anything about Gnostics until really the reign of Theodosius and the end of the Edict of Toleration.  Manichaenism was technically illegal in Hippo, but St. Augustine was born into it and wrote several polemics against it after his baptism.  Other Gnostic sects also continued to survive; the Panarion of St. Epiphanius makes it clear when the saintly author, based on the information available to him, was unsure of a particular sect's continued existence, or cases where one sect, such as the Severians, was succeeded by another sharing the same values, in the case of the Severians, the Tatianists. 

We can assume at a minimum three major forms of Christian Gnosticism remained in existence in the Fourth Century: a Syrian Gnosticism consisting of a few different sects including the horrific Borborites, who emerged in the third century in all probability, as St. Irenaeus does not mention them, most of whom followed the Ophite doctrine, worshipping the Serpent and/or Lucifer as being Christ and as the bringer of secret salvific knowledge, and thus venerating Eve or Cain; the Manichaen religion in its crypto-Christian form, which added to the standard five book canon additional works by Thomas the Manichee, such as the aforementioned "Gospel" which was either the sayings docment found at Nag Hammadi, or the horrifying Protoevangelion of Thomas, and finally a highly emanationist, Pythagorean-influenced form of Christianity very similiar to Neoplatonism or the Jewish Kabbalah, derived from Valentinism, Carpocratianism, and related Western and Egpytian schools.

Of the first form, the Yazidi and Yarsani religions partially preserve this; Melek Taus in the Yazidi faith appears to be a disguised Christ, as Yazidis practice Baptism and a vestigial Eucharist where a member of their priestly class holds up a piece of bread and asks "What is this?"   and the congregation answers "It is the bread of Isa" (Jesus); this bread is then consumed.  Yazidis getting married also stop at all Christian churches on the wedding route to ask the priest for a blessing, as they live in the Nineveh Plains with the Assyrians, Syriac Orthodox, Chaldeans and the other Kurdish people, and the Turkmen of Sinjar (who like the Yazidis of that city, have probabaly been killed or enslaved by ISIS).

Of the second form, it did become extinct after the 12th century, although Manichaean astrology and related concepts appear to have been imported into the Mandean religion of the Euphrates Delta area, the swamps where the Tigris and Euphrates drain into the Persian Gulf.  Mandean literally translates as Gnostic, and they venerate John the Baptist (Yahya) as their illuminator, and appear to regard Jesus as a false messiah, although recently Mandaeans have claimed his name means "book Messiah", whatever that is, and the Mandaean John Book curiously manages to make Jesus look good from a Christian perspective, and John the Baptist look worldly and carnal-minded.  Mandaeans also have popped up in Eastern churches from time to time; when the Assyrian priest Fr. Ephrem, who wrote the blog East Meets East, was working for the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Canada, a Mandaean girl showed up in the congregation; he was able to converse with her only because of his knowledge of classical Syriac Aramaic, which is closer to contrmporary Mandaic Aramaic vernacular speech than other contemporary Aramaic dialects, such as Assyrian.  Her presence was because she felt safe with Christians and desired some connection with her home country while she waited to meet with her family.  This suggests less hostility towards us than their religion implies, although given Gnostic dissimulation, syncretism and their capacity for incorporating new beliefs into their religion under pressure, either scenario is quite possible.

Of the third form, it is extinct in its Christian forms, apparently, the last sect of that school, the Paulicians of Armenia, converting to Orthodoxy in the 19th century, 1700 years after you said we killed them off.  We have most of their Key of Truth, a book of doctrine and anti-Orthodox polemics.  What is more, they were not killed off; most emigrated to Romania where they remain a distinct ethnic group.  I believe it is highly possible that Paulicianism survived at least until the Romanian Securitate as a secret religion practiced in private households; it might still survive, particularly if the Securitate did not deem it a threat.  You might know more than I; I would love to see relevant Securitate archives on the numbers of devout religious adherents of each sect being monitored, and a list of religions known to exist in Romania, as opposed to those officially admitted and tolerated by the Communist regime, if such records were preserved and made open to the public (as was the case in the former DDR); on this point you might know more than I do, and as a Romanian, you might have the opportunity to meet Paulicians and attempt to probe their beliefs and their Orthodoxy in comparison to the Key of Truth, which exists in English translation, to see if crypto-Gnostic traces remain.

If you are an ethnic Paulician by the way, and can definitely rule out such crypto-practices among your people, that would be a bummer, but useful information to avoid wasting time on an unprofitable expedition.

However, even if the Paulicians converted entirely to Holy Orthodoxy, which would not actually be a Bad Thing at all, we also have the Druze, whose cosmology is of the same structure, and which is known to have Neo-Platonic and Pythagorean influences, such as an aversion to beans.  The Druze are divided into two castes, of which only the priestly caste, the Gnostics, are fully initiated into the religion, and its secret doctrines, but we have a leaked Druze catechism and other information, including some from former Druze converts who managed to avoid honor killing, which allows us to see, if through a mirror darkly, a religion with clear traces of Pythagorean, Neo-Platonic and Valentinian influence, such as the belief that Allah is the Monad, without attributes, reincarnation, and an implied emanationism in the form of the mad anti-Christian Shia Caliph Al-Hakim of the Fatimids, who conducted several atrocities before being assasinated, and is regarded by the Druze to be God, despite their name meaning "Unitarians", and their denial that Allah has any attributes, when, logically, Al-Hakim had many attributes.  Hence, emanationism is implied, and this is the ground where the secret doctrines of the Druze faith that remain most closely guarded likely cover, that is, the specific nature of the relationship between Ali Hakim, who has attributes, and Allah, who is a Monad like Bythus in Valentinism, devoid of attributes.  My money is on this being a relationship structured around nested emanations, like Valentinism, Pythagoreanism, Neo-Platonism, Carpocratianism, Zoroastrianism, et cetera.

Thus, the argument you refer to can be comprehensively and systematically refuted on six points, which are redundant, even one of them being enough, in my opinion, to overturn the claims of Ehrman, Karen King, Elaine Pagels, et al, whose revisionist attempt to "retire" the "concept of Gnosticism" in favor of a concept of competing "Jesus movements" of equal antiquity is not supported by the textual or archaeological or sociological evidence, and seems driven more by wishful thinking and philosophical preferences.  It is not scientific; these people do not deserve a degree or a chair in the case of Karen King of a theological faculty, as theology is held to be a science, but rather should be philosophers in the humanities department, where they can advocate any interpretation they want without evidence-based peer review, which is, btw, completely lackingnin their articles and papers supporting their religious interpretations.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2017, 01:49:02 AM »
Is Pope Gelasius commemorated as a Saint in the Orthodox Church? Because I recall LBK slamming Rakovsky and me for questioning the King Abgar stuff.

IDK, but our saints are not held to be infallible.  Most have made at least some errors or expressed views the church later rejected in their writings, even expert luminaires such as St. John of Damascus regarding the Oriental Orthodox Christology and the history of our communion, or St. Athanasius the Apostolic, the Pillar of Orthodoxy, who did not consider the Book of Esther worthy of inclusion in our Old Testament canon.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 01:50:43 AM by Alpha60 »
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2017, 01:52:42 AM »
I used to have a thick volume of Proto-Gospels, Acts of the Etc., and Apocalypses; I loaned it to someone and lost it (reader, here is wisdom). These aren't read in Churches, and only a few are referred to in the Fathers. And at the time I read them, I thought most seemed too imaginative and triumphalist to be anything but pious fabrications. I have to reconsider -- perhaps they are texts of substance I overlooked ...

Debate!
The canonical gospels mention that there are sayings or deeds of Jesus that weren't included in the canonical gospels. And there are repeated sayings of Jesus that show up in both the early church fathers and the noncanonical writings. There is a whole category of sayings, "The Agrapha", that are known in scholarly circles. So based on probability, it's likely that at least some sayings or deeds of Jesus recorded in apocryphal early writings were factually true and genuine.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2017, 01:55:43 AM »
Is Pope Gelasius commemorated as a Saint in the Orthodox Church? Because I recall LBK slamming Rakovsky and me for questioning the King Abgar stuff.

IDK, but our saints are not held to be infallible.  Most have made at least some errors or expressed views the church later rejected in their writings, even expert luminaires such as St. John of Damascus regarding the Oriental Orthodox Christology and the history of our communion, or St. Athanasius the Apostolic, the Pillar of Orthodoxy, who did not consider the Book of Esther worthy of inclusion in our Old Testament canon.

I know. But if a Saint can get away with questioning (let along anathematizing!) something like that, I feel like us lowly fools should be able to as well without being talked down to for faithlessness by the tradition police.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #30 on: September 23, 2017, 02:13:11 AM »
Is Pope Gelasius commemorated as a Saint in the Orthodox Church? Because I recall LBK slamming Rakovsky and me for questioning the King Abgar stuff.

IDK, but our saints are not held to be infallible.  Most have made at least some errors or expressed views the church later rejected in their writings, even expert luminaires such as St. John of Damascus regarding the Oriental Orthodox Christology and the history of our communion, or St. Athanasius the Apostolic, the Pillar of Orthodoxy, who did not consider the Book of Esther worthy of inclusion in our Old Testament canon.

I know. But if a Saint can get away with questioning (let along anathematizing!) something like that, I feel like us lowly fools should be able to as well without being talked down to for faithlessness by the tradition police.

Well, I agree.  I myself back in the day was patronized quite a bit by a member (not LBK) who has been perma-banned.  Also, different members have different interpretations on doctrine, so what one member insists is Holy Tradition another might reject outright.  For example, the EO-OO divide. 

Orthodoxy lacks an infallible magisterium, and is more of a sea of opinions contained within loose boundaries set by the creeds and certain councils and Fathers, and dependent very heavily on the individual priests, bishops, patriarchs and Holy Synods for specific interpretation and acceptance or rejection.

Liturgical conformity in worship (the "Doxy") part, correct worship, which consists of many different things, as we have multiple liturgied and multiple liturgical traditions, even in the Greek Church in ancient times with the separate monastic and cathedral typikons, which can take many different forms while still being correct.  It is not monodoxy, but orthodogma, or orthokerygma, but Holy Orthodoxy, with the essence of correct wordhip being the Church as a Eucharistic Community sharing in the divine liturgy presided over by the Bishop in persone Christi, and the priests, his vicarious representatived, and the deacons who assist him, together with the faithful, a bishop in communion with all other Orthodox bishops with apostolic succession derived both from maintaining these traditions and  teachings, a correct interpretation of the Gospel, and and by being ordained a bishop by at least three other bishops who themselves meet the same criteria.  And of course the Nicene Creed and the hymn Ho Monoges, and the use of icons, three standard liturgical practices that exclude all ancient heresies or modern regurgitations of them.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #31 on: September 23, 2017, 02:26:05 AM »
I know this view has no currency here and I dismissed it myself in ages past, but I think it's a fiction to think there was some original orthodoxy from which the apocryphal gospels departed. Now, looking at their diversity it's more rwsonable to assume that Christianity contained from its beginnings all sorts of tendencies  .  It's just that the Catholic party emerged victorious by the end of the second century.

There is a long list of problems with that view however:

<snip></snip>



I'm not sure how any of your reasons really address his point. He's not denying that Orthodoxy is ancient or that it coalesced into a canon early. He's just saying it wasn't the only game in town. And of course Gnosticisms and Orthodoxies are going to have features in common over time and are going to condemn one another, factions form all the time in everything. Augustin is just claiming that neither of the two+ was as objective as it pretended.

It's an argument that I'm far from sympathetic to, but I'm not at all sure how to go about disproving it. Perhaps, as Agabus says, it's purely a matter of one's faith *shrug*


Thus, the argument you refer to can be comprehensively and systematically refuted on six points, which are redundant, even one of them being enough, in my opinion, to overturn the claims of Ehrman, Karen King, Elaine Pagels, et al, whose revisionist attempt to "retire" the "concept of Gnosticism" in favor of a concept of competing "Jesus movements" of equal antiquity is not supported by the textual or archaeological or sociological evidence, and seems driven more by wishful thinking and philosophical preferences.  It is not scientific; these people do not deserve a degree or a chair in the case of Karen King of a theological faculty, as theology is held to be a science, but rather should be philosophers in the humanities department, where they can advocate any interpretation they want without evidence-based peer review, which is, btw, completely lackingnin their articles and papers supporting their religious interpretations.

In the secular academy, theology is almost always lumped in with philosophy of religion. Though, I'm pretty sure philosophy journals do have peer review.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2017, 09:18:38 PM »
Thus, the argument you refer to can be comprehensively and systematically refuted on six points, which are redundant, even one of them being enough, in my opinion, to overturn the claims of Ehrman, Karen King, Elaine Pagels, et al, whose revisionist attempt to "retire" the "concept of Gnosticism" in favor of a concept of competing "Jesus movements" of equal antiquity is not supported by the textual or archaeological or sociological evidence, and seems driven more by wishful thinking and philosophical preferences.  It is not scientific; these people do not deserve a degree or a chair
augustin probably won't reply to you, but thanks a lot for elaborating the problems.

Care to further refute Ehrman's more academic works, not the popular ones?
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #33 on: September 23, 2017, 09:25:51 PM »
Thus, the argument you refer to can be comprehensively and systematically refuted on six points, which are redundant, even one of them being enough, in my opinion, to overturn the claims of Ehrman, Karen King, Elaine Pagels, et al, whose revisionist attempt to "retire" the "concept of Gnosticism" in favor of a concept of competing "Jesus movements" of equal antiquity is not supported by the textual or archaeological or sociological evidence, and seems driven more by wishful thinking and philosophical preferences.  It is not scientific; these people do not deserve a degree or a chair
augustin probably won't reply to you, but thanks a lot for elaborating the problems.

Meh. I wouldn't bother replying either. I mean, I don't disagree with the main point he (Alpha) makes, but his arguments range from kinda-ok to irrelevant to lulzy. Ain't no one got the time or energy to respond to all that, especially knowing you're just going to get a 3,000 word counter-response of mostly the same kind of mish-mash as the original.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 09:26:18 PM by Asteriktos »

Offline augustin717

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #34 on: September 23, 2017, 09:40:33 PM »
Thus, the argument you refer to can be comprehensively and systematically refuted on six points, which are redundant, even one of them being enough, in my opinion, to overturn the claims of Ehrman, Karen King, Elaine Pagels, et al, whose revisionist attempt to "retire" the "concept of Gnosticism" in favor of a concept of competing "Jesus movements" of equal antiquity is not supported by the textual or archaeological or sociological evidence, and seems driven more by wishful thinking and philosophical preferences.  It is not scientific; these people do not deserve a degree or a chair
augustin probably won't reply to you, but thanks a lot for elaborating the problems.

Care to further refute Ehrman's more academic works, not the popular ones?
unless you're trying to harmonize the gospels at any price as apologists new and old do, you can see traces of docetusm or Gnosticism even in the. Anonical ones after att the redaction process they went through .  When Christ appears and dissapewars at will, passes through walls those aren't either reportage or strong incarnational texts, but originally docetic stories .  And you see the Catholic redactional process when after such a miracle of teleportation a detail is added as to mitigate the inherent docetism. The detail has to do with eating fish or honey usually.
It's an example . There are more.
But yes you can harmonize stuff. It's been done since the second century at least. Orthodoxy is the end result of such harmonizations of divergent theologies . Hence all the paradoxes. They can also be attractive.





She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, “The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.”
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #35 on: September 23, 2017, 10:11:10 PM »
Meh. I wouldn't bother replying either. I mean, I don't disagree with the main point he (Alpha) makes, but his arguments range from kinda-ok to irrelevant to lulzy. Ain't no one got the time or energy to respond to all that, especially knowing you're just going to get a 3,000 word counter-response of mostly the same kind of mish-mash as the original.
Well I didn't say they were good arguments, it's just nice to see Alpha60's loquaciousness put to better use in a topic that matters. 8)
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #36 on: September 23, 2017, 10:17:00 PM »
Asteriktos, maybe you can help me understand a bizarre claim Fr. Hopko once said. He said all theology was pretty much "finished by 70 A.D. Everything after was just putting a finer point to things. How in the world did he come to such a conclusion? What am I overlooking?

I know not related to the discussion but I was just reminded of it.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 10:17:35 PM by RobS »
"The business of the Christian is nothing else than to be ever preparing for death (μελεπᾷν ἀποθνήσκειν)."

— Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, Fragment XI

Modernist thinking and being consists of nothing but uncritical acceptance.

Offline augustin717

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #37 on: September 23, 2017, 10:22:08 PM »
Asteriktos, maybe you can help me understand a bizarre claim Fr. Hopko once said. He said all theology was pretty much "finished by 70 A.D. Everything after was just putting a finer point to things. How in the world did he come to such a conclusion? What am I overlooking?

I know not related to the discussion but I was just reminded of it.
well it's a trope  for a reason that the orthodox don't know the Bible. Not in a scholarly way .
She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, “The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.”
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.

Offline RobS

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #38 on: September 23, 2017, 10:24:11 PM »
unless you're trying to harmonize the gospels at any price as apologists new and old do, you can see traces of docetusm or Gnosticism even in the. Anonical ones after att the redaction process they went through .  When Christ appears and dissapewars at will, passes through walls those aren't either reportage or strong incarnational texts, but originally docetic stories .  And you see the Catholic redactional process when after such a miracle of teleportation a detail is added as to mitigate the inherent docetism. The detail has to do with eating fish or honey usually.
It's an example . There are more.
But yes you can harmonize stuff. It's been done since the second century at least. Orthodoxy is the end result of such harmonizations of divergent theologies . Hence all the paradoxes. They can also be attractive.
So I take it you are familiar with what Ehrman says about transcriptional probability? Sure it is basic common sense in light of textual criticism. The issue is applicability of that principle. That's what is being contested.
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #39 on: September 23, 2017, 10:25:28 PM »
And to answer Alpha's bizarre musing that I may be an ethnic Paulician or that the sect survives in Romania. Lol
There are a few villages of Bulgarian Paulicians indeed, but those became RC in the eighteenth century when Maria Theresa or Joseph II settled them in Banat. I Passed through one of those villages hundreds of times maybe. But those people are just regular RC.
She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, “The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.”
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #40 on: September 23, 2017, 10:35:47 PM »
Asteriktos, maybe you can help me understand a bizarre claim Fr. Hopko once said. He said all theology was pretty much "finished by 70 A.D. Everything after was just putting a finer point to things. How in the world did he come to such a conclusion? What am I overlooking?

I know not related to the discussion but I was just reminded of it.

Perhaps because the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ occurred prior, and the old system of atonement was irrevocably destroyed around 70 A.D.?  I don't know if that finishes theology, but that's why the date 70 A.D. would stand out.  fwiw. 
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #41 on: September 23, 2017, 11:53:19 PM »
And to answer Alpha's bizarre musing that I may be an ethnic Paulician or that the sect survives in Romania. Lol
There are a few villages of Bulgarian Paulicians indeed, but those became RC in the eighteenth century when Maria Theresa or Joseph II settled them in Banat. I Passed through one of those villages hundreds of times maybe. But those people are just regular RC.

Since when is Timişoara in Bulgaria?
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #42 on: September 24, 2017, 12:07:20 AM »
And to answer Alpha's bizarre musing that I may be an ethnic Paulician or that the sect survives in Romania. Lol
There are a few villages of Bulgarian Paulicians indeed, but those became RC in the eighteenth century when Maria Theresa or Joseph II settled them in Banat. I Passed through one of those villages hundreds of times maybe. But those people are just regular RC.

Since when is Timişoara in Bulgaria?
can you read? There are ethnic Bulgarian RC of supposedly Paulician ancestry living in Banat. But Paulicianism isn't a religion they still practice.
She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, “The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.”
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.

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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #43 on: September 24, 2017, 02:03:17 AM »
Asteriktos, maybe you can help me understand a bizarre claim Fr. Hopko once said. He said all theology was pretty much "finished by 70 A.D. Everything after was just putting a finer point to things. How in the world did he come to such a conclusion? What am I overlooking?

I know not related to the discussion but I was just reminded of it.

Perhaps because the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ occurred prior, and the old system of atonement was irrevocably destroyed around 70 A.D.?  I don't know if that finishes theology, but that's why the date 70 A.D. would stand out.  fwiw.

That and maybe he's referring to the argument that since the author of Luke-Acts doesn't mention the destruction nor the deaths of Peter and Paul, therefore the Synoptics were essentially codified by 70 (Fr. Hopko tended to view John as the least historical Gospel IIRC).

ETA: Doesn't mention the destruction as having already occurred in Acts. I suppose that a secularist can always argue that the Olivet Discourse is a fake "post facto" prophecy.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 02:10:50 AM by Volnutt »
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    • Weihos Bokos
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Re: The Proto-Gospels: Early Christian "fanfic"?
« Reply #44 on: September 24, 2017, 04:15:13 AM »
Now, looking at their [the apocryphal gospels'] diversity it's more rwsonable to assume that Christianity contained from its beginnings all sorts of tendencies  .

Yes, however, do you assign the beginning of Christianity to the first century CE? On what grounds? Philosophical, lexical, ...?
My perspective is: Christ -> χριστος 'anointed', which means Christianity would have to be at least as old as Samuel who anointed king Saul, giving ample time for various philosophies to arise as companions to Christianity. From a societal perspective, some compare Jesus to Moses and Melchizedek, hinting to an even earlier terminus ante quem:

Quote from: Hebrews 7:14-17, KJ
For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.